Laich says he's ready, Oates not so sure

Laich says he's ready, Oates not so sure
December 22, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Caps head to OT again, fall to Devils

(Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

After four weeks of aggressive rehab, acupuncture and a whole lot of soul searching, Capitals center Brooks Laich said Sunday he’s ready to return to the lineup Monday night when Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks visit Verizon Center.

Caps head coach Adam Oates isn’t so sure.

“I feel like I am [able to return],” said Laich, who has been sidelined since Nov. 27 with a groin injury that has dogged him for nearly a year. “I really do.

“I skated three days in a row with no problem. Conditioning was never a concern. I had a couple practices at full speed and now it’s on the general manager and coaches and our team doctors.

“I’m just awaiting the word. It’s their decision. I feel like I’m ready to go, that’s all I can say for myself and then I wait for their decision.”

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Oates said on Saturday that he’d like to see Laich compete in full-contact practices before inserting him into the lineup.

The Capitals’ schedule – they play their third game in four nights on Monday - has not allowed for many full practices in the past week. Sunday’s optional practice was attended by Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle, Aaron Volpatti, Michael Latta, Steve Oleksy, Alex Urbom and Laich, along with goalies Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer.

Asked if a spirited game of shinny constitutes a full-contact practice, Oates hedged.

“Not really,” he said. “We’ll get an evaluation [Monday] and see how real is real.”

The Caps made room for Laich by assigning center Casey Wellman to the Hershey Bears, reducing their roster from 23 players to 22. Center Michael Latta also is close to returning from a lower body injury. To make room for both players the Caps would need to send Grubauer back to Hershey, which does not appear to be in the short-term future.